Venice: August 1637

Pages 250-260

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 24, 1636-1639. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1923.

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August 1637

Aug. 1.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Costantinopoli. Venetian Archives.
273. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Bailo at Constantinople, to the Doge and Senate.
Learning from the Consul Orlandini of Cyprus that the English consul there (fn. 1) was claiming to reduce the payment on all goods from 5, 7, and 9 per cent., ad valorem, to a uniform rate of only 3 per cent., I took steps, not to oppose the grant of this favour to the English, but to prevent unequal treatment as between one nation and another. The Basha promised me that no wrong should be done to any one.
The Vigne di Pera, the 1st August, 1637.
Aug. 6.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
274. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The French and Dutch ambassadors extraordinary both departed this week, with scant satisfaction to the Court, who seem displeased at the removal of these two ministers under present circumstances, before the ordinary ambassadors arrive, as they feel sure these will not come soon, although that is announced. Although they make it appear that this feeling arises from regard for the treaty, the real vexation is due to offended pride, as England has two ambassadors in France, while the Most Christian is not represented at all here. Both Beveren and Senneterre departed very well pleased with their personal treatment, especially the Dutchman, who boasts that at his last public audience the king made him mount the steps of the dais, an honour never done to any of his predecessors, or to himself either at his first audience. This will serve to increase the pretensions of the Dutch as well as those of other ambitious princes who wish to put their ambassadors on a par with those of crowned heads.
The Prince Palatine writes that the States have made a general reply, though full of friendly expressions. They said they could not decide to send a minister to Hamburg before they had received overtures about the agreement with France, otherwise they would be negotiating in the dark. Here, on the contrary, they want the minister sent to Hamburg with full powers, to whom the articles aforesaid will be communicated upon the fact only, to decide thereupon what may be found opportune. But if the Dutch persist in withholding their assent I think it likely that the Palatine will give way to them and in that case he may go even further in order to make sure of sincere action on their part.
The allies consider this undignified, and hence it is inferred that the English do not really attach so much importance to the matter as they pretend and ought, and that they would not mind if something occurred to delay the conclusion, especially if they were sure that the general peace will not be concluded, as they seem to hope more and more, so far as such scanty indications as exist testify.
In the event of any difficulty about arranging a congress at Hamburg, England is content to have it held at the Hague or in some other place which may be considered most convenient. But wherever it may be held they are determined not to send any one there expressly, but that the commissions which have been given to the Agent at Hamburg shall remain in force or in case of need that they shall be transferred opportunely to the Resident at the Hague.
The couriers, detained by contrary winds, arrived at the beginning of this week. They bring good news from Germany and the Netherlands ; that the Swedes only abandoned the port of Turgo for lack of food, and then they withdrew in good order, evading a trap laid by the enemy. That the Prince of Orange, giving the Cardinal Infant the slip, has laid siege to Breda, and hopes to take it easily. Both events cause great satisfaction here, and so do events in France, comprising the accommodation with the Count of Soissons, the surrender of Landrecies and the success of Duke Bernard in Franche Comté, although some cannot hide their regret at the capture of the Duke of Lorraine. (fn. 2)
His Majesty's fleet has returned from Holland with a favourable wind, and is now in the Downs awaiting orders to sail. But they have not yet decided where it is to go, as they do not wish to molest the Dutch fisheries, and cannot determine on anything before they see what decisions are taken at the conference of the allies. The ships, which are under the command of the Earl of Northumberland, comprising the fifteen which are set apart for the Palatine, do not at present exceed twenty five in number. It is true that they have sent six to the Barbary coasts (fn. 3) and they are keeping four here to convoy merchandise, and if necessary these can join the others.
Yesterday I had a long conference with the Spanish ambassador, being at his house for the second time. He talked about nearly all the affairs of Europe and a general peace. He accused the French of delaying the congress at Cologne. He spoke of the restitution of Lorraine and Pinarolo. He did not consider it just to take the latter from the Most Christian. If the Duke of Savoy chose to break his head, he must do so. The King of Spain was not called upon to be a father protector to the Italian princes. This was his own opinion and his master's too. I declined to express any views. He spoke at length about the affairs of the Palatine, trying to prove that it was not in the general interest to treat of these in the general peace. They have nothing to do with the present war and the difficulties in the way would prevent a conclusion of themselves, as it is impossible to take from Bavaria what he will not concede. So this matter should be dealt with separately, and some third party, not interested, should intervene. The chief points were only a matter of show which could be adjusted. He was ready personally to do all that was in his power, though he knew it was useless. He then asked how much longer I was staying at this Court I told him very little, I believed, but I was not sure as it depended on the state instructions. He said he was sorry. I fancy he wished to intimate that he would like to treat of the affair with a minister of your Excellencies, and this confirms my idea that what the Palatine's Agent said to me was not done without previous arrangement with the ministers here although he has not been to me again.
I have received this week the ducal missives of the 4th ult.
Richmond, the 6th August, 1637.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Aug. 8.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Germania. Venetian Archives.
275. Giovanni Battista Ballarino, Venetian Secretary in Germany, to the Doge and Senate.
They are very apprehensive about the declarations of England. Teller maintains that they will not take place although it is more than likely that they will supply some help covertly to the enemies of the empire. Although news to the contrary has come from London, yet they suspend judgment until there is more thorough confirmation. This may arrive with the first letters thence. One thing is certain that this English minister keeps alive the hopes of an adjustment, and he labours hard to obtain from Cæsar some final decision, with which he promises absolutely the abandonment of all thought of any movement of that crown and the Palatine in favour of Cæsar's enemies. It is added that a letter has appeared these last days from the Earl of Arundel to the Bishop of Vienna. Although it contains no business yet it appears that it is couched in terms of great cordiality, a tone which he has not adopted hitherto. It looks as if England was developing a disposition to determine the present controversies by way of negotiation rather than that of arms, especially considering the irresolution of Denmark and the promises made to the emperor by Castagneda in the name of the Catholic, that they mean to put a term in Spain, with entire advantage to those here, to every pretension of the Palatine. This causes them to keep their hand raised as peradventure it would be easier to concede greater satisfaction.
Vienna, the 8th August, 1637.
Aug. 14.
Senato, Secreta. Deliberazioni. Corti. Venetian Archives.
276. To the Ambassador in England.
We approve of the manner of your reply to the Palatine's agent. If he returns and raises the subject again, you will say, as if on your own responsibility, that the republic desires nothing more sincerely than the prosperity of the Palatine House and will always welcome opportunities of serving it. Your departure for France is at hand and you cannot delay it because of the season of the year. You will thus cut short the matter while assuring him of our good will. We commend your action with reference to the Ambassador Ognate. We enclose a copy of an exposition by the English ambassador.
You are to proceed to France as soon as possible, arranging the time with the Ambassador Contarini. You will direct the Secretary Zonca to remain until the Ambassador Giustinian arrives. You will present Zonca, on your taking leave of the king, as the minister and resident who is to act until Giustinian arrives. For his equipment, maintenance for horses etc. he will have as a donation 300 ducats of lire 6 grossi 4 each and 130 crowns a month for all expenses except for couriers and the carriage of letters. You will also give him provision for two months on the day you leave for France and give him the donation of 300 ducats as well with some money for couriers and letters.
Ayes, 110. Noes, 0. Neutral, 3.
Aug. 14.
Collegio, Secreta. Esposizioni, Principi. Venetian Archives.
277. The Ambassador of Great Britain came into the Collegio and spoke to the following effect :
Your excess of favours towards me makes me seek every opportunity to give you pleasure. As you were pleased to hear of the alliance I am sure you will be glad to hear of its progress. I have no doubt you will have heard of the arrival of the Palatine in Holland and of his meeting with their High Mightinesses. Although he received a general reply, it was very favourable, so that there is hope for better results.
I have letters from Brussels of the 1st inst. informing me of the accord between the Most Christian and the Count of Soissons, which he reported. The Queen mother and Prince Tomaso did not believe it. The latter wrote to the count to remonstrate, because he had used him as his mediator with the Catholic. The queen mother said that she must now seek a reconciliation, as she clearly saw the results of the alliance between the Most Christian and my king, and other advantages might be expected therefrom.
I venture to inform you that the news of the truce is confirmed, showing the success of the Duke of Candales. Landresi was taken and he advanced to the gates of Nave in Hainault, (fn. 4) only meeting with a slight resistance, there being only the Count of Buquoi, who raised a small force constituting the principal power of the Cardinal Infant, and under the Duke of Balanzon, but incapable of resisting Candales, the garrisons being scattered in various places. We hear that the army of the States consists of 15,000 foot and 5000 horse and that they intend to besiege Breda. This is important news because of the consequences. I have only to add that these great affairs require great reflection. Your resident at the imperial Court knows this. In spite of his efforts to obtain passports for the Protestant princes he has not succeeded. The nuncio also proposed an armistice, but it is not expected, as the Spaniards desire a peace not an armistice. From this it is clear that their objects are very various, and one may infer that the Austrians merely aim at transferring the negotiations from Cologne to Rome. It is therefore necessary to keep one's eyes open, to avoid the harm that such ideas may cause, and your Serenity should keep wide awake.
The doge replied, Your news of the alliance between his Majesty and the Most Christian is very gratifying to us, and we consider your remarks on the subject very prudent. It should be enough that the Count of Soissons has returned to his obedience, and we are very pleased, especially as we understand that it may have been due to the accord between their Majesties. We thank you for the advices. We had heard them but not with so many particulars. The nuncio's proposal for an armistice is indeed worthy of consideration, and even more so the idea of transferring the peace negotiations to Rome. It will be necessary to keep our eyes open, as you say, and to see that the peace negotiations, which were to be managed at Cologne, shall be carried on there. We pray God to inspire the princes to peace. We can only praise his Majesty for aiming at this particular object, and your lordship for your devotion to it. The ambassador made some complimentary remarks, rose from his seat, took leave and departed.
Aug. 18.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
278. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
The English have proposed that the congress fixed for Hamburg shall be held at the Hague. Although they have instructed M. d'Avo to attend it the Cardinal fears there may be difficulties about the Hague because the States are unwilling to meddle in the affairs of the empire so as not to have too many enemies and to avoid stopping the trade which is very important to those Provinces. It is observed with some astonishment that the ambassadors here seem in no wise moved by the reports circulating of an armistice, as if this is concluded on the basis of everyone keeping what he holds the Palatine house will be deprived of its dominions, and the treaty agreed upon between France and England but not yet signed here, because they have not obtained the assent of the Swedes and Dutch, will remain incomplete and useless.
The Chevalier Seneterre is here back from London. M. di Bellievre left for that city a few days ago with the title of ambassador extraordinary, although he will stay there a long time, practically as ordinary.
Paris, the 18th August, 1637.
Aug. 21.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
279. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
The last letters of the Palatine of the 10th August announce that the States referred him to the Prince of Orange, whom he found so strongly entrenched under Breda that all the forces of the Cardinal Infant have not sufficed to disturb him, and so they will not be able to prevent him taking the place in a short time. The news gives great satisfaction here, and with the House of Austria at a disadvantage they hope to settle the Palatine's affairs peacefully, since they perceive that it cannot be done by arms and that time is being wasted to no purpose. This is why they are proceeding so languidly to bring about the union of the allied powers to stipulate the treaties concluded in particular with the Most Christian. They are indifferent as to whether present circumstances afford the best opportunity for carrying into effect the proofs and deeds. To the amazement of everyone in a matter which they have pushed with so much vigour the ministers here now show themselves very tepid, and care little or nothing about the reports arriving from France and Germany, which gain more and more credit, that negotiations for a truce are in close negotiation between the House of Austria, the Most Christian, the Swedes and the Dutch. This attitude gives just cause for believing that they always intended to attain their ends more by the name than by the essence of this alliance. It may be that it did not suit the particular interests of this kingdom, which is seriously disturbed internally over questions of religion and the extinction of the liberty of the people, to engage it in a foreign war, which would be long, costly and dangerous, with the even greater peril of kindling a yet greater conflagration in their own midst to extinguish which it would be necessary to abandon the other war, with loss of honour as well as of money, and possibly involving the necessity of making some concession to the people, which they would wait for in vain without such an opening.
This then is the real question which forms the subject of all their deliberations, and I know for certain that they have been frequent even during the king's journey, so this view is not far from the truth. It has come to my knowledge from a very safe source, that the Spaniards are already beginning to carry on very secret intrigues with the malcontents, to supply them with money so as to start a great rebellion and even take the lead of it openly, if at any time the king decides to declare war openly on them. I find, however, though I may be wrong, that though appearances seem to show an exactly opposite sentiment, yet for the reasons aforesaid, it would not displease them if the truces were concluded at the earliest opportunity, if it were possible with any real hope of success to revive such a business by the adjustment of the affairs of the Palatine, that might serve to determine the matter suitably, and this would be by entrusting it to the hands of some third party, as I have written before. In the mean time, so that there may be no apparent lack of vigour they go about declaring the resolute steps they mean to take and that they will carry them out sword in hand.
They still allow the Swedes to take levies ; only this week Colonel Leslie, a Scot, obtained a patent to raise 500 foot. The first levies have almost all gone and they circulate rumours of fresh reinforcements for the fleet ; but in spite of this the Earl of Northumberland remains idle in the Downs with all his ships, without orders or occasion to sail soon.
News has come that they have captured some Turkish pirates off Barbary, making rich booty. They rejoice greatly on the score of reputation, being avenged for the damage done them by these same pirates last year in Ireland, and because they hope that the people will support the burden of the contributions more patiently than they have done hitherto, when they see that there is some advantage in being compelled to support the fleet.
The Resident Nicolaldi, having taken leave of the king, has visited all the ambassadors except me. He is dissatisfied with his present, which was such as is usually given to an agent. They make no distinction here between Agent and Resident. Nicolaldi claims as being a Resident and a degree above an agent. They laugh about it at the Court. As it is never their practice to alter old rules, especially where it is a question of giving, if he persists in this mood he will leave in that frame of mind, and will not get anything more.
The Ambassador Ognate also seems very ill content as he claims greater privileges than are due to his charge. They complain in particular that when some of his familiars were passing the time with two loose women in certain fields, a constable recognised these women and carried them off under their noses. When his men told the ambassador, he sallied forth, sword in hand, followed by all his household, armed, forced the house where the women were guarded and took them away, placing them where he thought they would be safer. He afterwards gloried in the action as a conspicuous sign of his power. The incident displeased the king who intimated his sentiments, warning the ambassador that if he came to harm while he was behaving in this fashion, he would have to put up with it. (fn. 5) The dissatisfaction of this minister, which increases daily for many other reasons which I need not narrate, may ultimately give rise to unexpected accidents affecting matters which touch the interests of the common cause, if he does not soon leave this country, as in his extravagant way he says he will do before long.
I beg to thank your Excellencies for granting that I shall be the first of the three ambassadors to move to my new appointment. I hope to start very soon, directly the king has returned from his progress.
I received last week the state despatches of the 11th ult. together with advices.
Richmond, the 21st August, 1637.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]
Aug. 25.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Francia. Venetian Archives.
280. Alvise Contarini, Venetian Ambassador in France, to the Doge and Senate.
With respect to the treaties with England the Swedes raise strong objections against accepting the first treaty. They say they will not agree to it unless the King of Great Britain joins in taking his proper share in supporting the war. They are also afraid of the existence of secret articles in addition to those published. Here they declare that they will act as mediators with the Swedes and Dutch also, to overcome the difficulties, as they want to lead England gently on to what they desire and not to offend her on any account. It is not yet fully decided whether the congress will be held at Hamburg or the Hague, but the latter is considered the more probable.
Paris, the 25th August, 1637.
Aug. 27.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Sopagna. Venetian Archives.
281. Giovanni Giustinian, Venetian Ambassador in Spain, to the Doge and Senate.
The English ambassador has expressed the readiness of his master to interpose for a general accommodation. They replied that the intervention of that crown would always be acceptable, and that it may even render itself arbiter of the public peace. When that is once established the House of Austria will not aim ... (fn. 6) on any account, intimating that if France will surrender all Lorraine the Austrians will do the same with the Upper and Lower Palatinate. These are all devices to render vain the negotiations of that crown with France and to gain time, which is considered the most remunerative investment.
Madrid, the 27th August, 1637.
[Italian.] Copy.
Aug. 28.
Senato, Secreta. Dispacci, Inghilterra. Venetian Archives.
282. Anzolo Correr, Venetian Ambassador in England, to the Doge and Senate.
After the Spanish ambassador had heard the remonstrances reported, he set out for the Court under the pretext of other important negotiations, and sent to ask audience of the king on a day when it was not convenient to receive him, it being appointed for continuing the journey. His Majesty sent him word that if the matter was important he would gladly wait to hear him on the following day. Accordingly an appointment was made, apparently to the satisfaction of both. When no news came of the ambassador the whole day, while his Majesty was waiting, various conjectures were made, but towards night a messenger arrived with news that he had fallen ill and had been compelled to stop and postpone fulfilling his charge until a more convenient occasion. It is probable that this was really the case, but circumstances often affect the interpretation of things, and so they did not believe him, and his Majesty is exceedingly offended, being persuaded that the Spaniard meant to avail himself of the meeting to kill two birds with one stone, indemnifying himself for the audience which was not granted as he wished and leaving them in doubt about what he was to represent.
Such an accumulation of unpleasantness on both sides may well make one despair of opening fresh negotiations with this minister. He is so austere and punctilious personally that now he is offended one doubts if he will not stir up fresh ill feeling. In order to forestall him they have sent this week to the Ambassador Astney in Spain, representing the affair from their point of view, so as to keep up relations with the Spaniards and above all not to offend them.
In the meantime it seems that they think little or nothing about hastening on the congress of the allies, to put the final touches to the treaties with the French. Two months have now passed uselessly since they were arranged. Everything goes to show that they will prove lengthy rather than solid, and ultimately they will push on the negotiations for the truce, the less they seem to believe it here or to care about it ; but if this is concluded and the affairs of the Palatine have to remain dormant for six years more, or are only kept awake by the resolutions of England, the wisest think, with reason, that they may be considered utterly lost because if this nation shows itself sotepid amid so many inducements, it seems most probable that it will let them drop altogether when it has not such incitement.
There is a report, though not yet authenticated, that the Palatine has gone on to Germany from the Prince of Orange's army, in order to confer with the Landgrave of Hesse, but if so, he has done it without informing his Majesty first ; but the king will not mind, indeed he will be very pleased if the Palatine makes some satisfactory arrangement without his having anything to do with it. But there is scant ground for this because it is well known that the Landgrave does not want commanders but money to maintain his force. They are eagerly waiting for authentic news.
Very bitter news has been brought from Scotland this week about religious matters, owing to what may ensue and to the encouragement they fear it may give to troubled spirits in this kingdom also ; accordingly the ministers have devoted all their attention and labour to it. It is reported that when the Bishop of Edinburgh was performing the liturgy at the newly erected stone altar, wearing his cope and acting according to the forms set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the people, scandalised by his dress, the altar and other ceremonies, suddenly rose up against him and those who were assisting him, and not only stripped off his vestments and trampled them under foot, but handled him and the others so savagely that they barely escaped with their lives. Following the example of the cathedral all those assembled in the other churches did the same against their ministers, so that they say even the women and children used their teeth and nails against them, forming an extraordinary spectacle. They afterwards went all together before the magistrate of the city and made a very strong protest that they would never tolerate such innovations in the church, even if they were sure that to support the old institutions would cost them their lives. (fn. 7) This has exceedingly afflicted and depressed the Archbishop of Canterbury both because it concerns interests of state and because it may stir up revolutions among the people here, who are no less scandalised and discontented than the Scots. As he laid the foundations of his supreme authority upon obedience to these innovations, which he arbitrarily commanded, he sees his authority waning now that they are not only overthrown but contemned. He may also apprehend losing the king's favour when it is known that his counsels produce such dangerous results. In the mean time they are thinking of bringing the leaders to trial, but he is eagerly trying to prevent them from taking any steps in this first ardour, and to save up revenge for a more opportune time, making a law of necessity for the moment, in order to appease the tumult quietly with as little disadvantage as possible, as it might give rise to much greater scandals, for which things are disposed everywhere. But as the Spaniards secretly foment this material with all their might, your Serenity may easily conclude how little occasion they have here to think of foreign affairs, especially those which involve long and costly wars, and before they can see what will be the final result of the articles arranged with the French, which are held in such veneration and which they are trying to hide with such art.
I have received this week the state despatches of the 18th and 24th July, which arrived together, and the accompanying sheets of advices.
Richmond, the 28th August, 1637.
[Italian ; the part in italics deciphered.]


  • 1. Richard Glover.
  • 2. The events alluded to are the escape of Baner from Torgau and the toils of Gallas ; the opening of the siege of Breda on the 23rd July ; the settlement with Soissons on the 26th July ; the fall of Landrecies on the 25th July ; the defeat of the duke of Lorraine by Bernard of Weimar at Ray sur Saone, but the duke was not captured.
  • 3. The Salee expedition under Captain William Rainsborough. He sailed in March with the "Leopard" and "Antelope" of the royal navy, and the "Hercules" and "Mary," merchantmen. The "Providence" and "Expedition," pinnaces of the royal navy, were sent out to join him, at the end of May. Cal, S.P. Dom. 1636-7, page 449, Id. 1637. page 150.
  • 4. Probably Bavay is intended. The duke proceeded to Maubeuge.
  • 5. Salvetti gives some further particulars in his despatch of the 25th August. "Due gentilhuomini o servitori del Sig. Conte d'Ognat ... essendo stati trovati con due donne di cattiva vita poco distante della casa del padron, furno essendo riconosciuti per quelli erano rilasciati e le donne poste in prigione. Il che da essi riferito a Sua Eccelenza e parendoli che tal caso derogasse alle sue prerogative, chiesta l'armi e fatta armar la famiglia ando alli carceri di dove tolse le due donne." Brit. Mus. Add MSS., 27962H.
  • 6. Original torn.
  • 7. This riot in St. Giles cathedral Edinburgh took place on Sunday 23 July— 2 Aug.